Lazy days and Independence Day

Uncategorized

Tuesday

Finished – Charles Reade’s A Woman-Hater

Run – .5 miles

Zumba – 1 hour

Great class. Managed to get slightly better night’s sleep the night before, so getting up for class was less of a chore than usual.

Finished Charles Reade’s A Woman-Hater (1877). Learned that if you flirt with ballet dancers when your opera singer wife has stepped out of the room, you will break your spine and die.

Wednesday

Finished – Henry James’s The Bostonians

Run – .5 miles

Body weight circuit – x2

Zumba – 1 hour

Finished Henry James’s The Bostonians before lunch. I felt pretty mixed about it (I read it because there’s a woman doctor in it for about 50 pages), but it was overall not bad. I went to the gym after a long-ish day of working on an article and intended to use it to clear my head, since the revisions on this thing were killing me. Got in a .5 mile warm-up and two rounds of the body weight circuit before I headed to class. I fully (fully!) intended to stay, but our usual teacher was out, and I REALLY didn’t want to deal with a sub. So, I went home, worked for a little, practiced German and did a home-brew Zumba class. This was my favorite song I did (don’t ask me how I found it, because I legitimately have no idea):

Thursday

Run – 2 miles

I spent the day doing some work and running some errands (including five loads of laundry. Oi). Kept the run short, since my legs were still feeling a little beat up from the day before.

Friday

Run – 2 miles

Celebrated the holiday a day in advance with some fireworks, food, and friends at Blossom Music Center, but preceded it with a two mile run.

fireworks

the girls

Saturday

Rest

Gym closed. Took the day too sleep late and laze around reading and writing before bingeing on “Twin Peaks” in the evening.

Sunday

Rest

This was supposed to be a race day (5K), but I accidentally shut my alarm off before I woke up for the race. Wah wah. Felt pretty weird the rest of the day – didn’t sleep well – so spent most of the day packing for Hawaii and cleaning.

Monday

Run – 2.5 miles

Body weight circuit – x2

First day of summer teaching, and it felt nice (if a bit harried) to get back into the swing of teaching a class. Worked on the article I’m presenting at NAVSA next week – hoping to get the full version drafted tomorrow.

Total miles: 7.5

Total books: 2

Advertisements

Off-balance.

Uncategorized

Tuesday

Zumba – 1 hour

A good class, but I felt a little off-balance (literally – I had trouble on some of the more challenging lunges), due to a lack of sleep the night before. Still breaking in the new shoes too, so I’m sure that also had something to do with it. I was feeling pretty burnt out generally, so I took the rest of the day for rest and a little decompressing.

Wednesday

Run – .5 miles (warm-up to the gym)

Zumba – 1 hour

Instructor pushed us hard in class, which I’m normally on board with. I’d spent the day at a baseball game with my family and regretted the burger I had afterward, since I started feeling nauseated about halfway in. Pushed through, but I need to be more cautious about pre-workout meals, apparently.

Thursday

Run – 2.5 miles @ avg. 5.0 mph pace (pushed speed increases from 4.7 – 5.5 every .1 mi or so)

Body weight circuit – 2x

  • 30 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (w/10 lb dumbbell)
  • 30 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Felt good overall during this workout. I slept a lot the night before (at least nine hours), so felt a whole lot better than the previous two days. A little queasy afterward, so I’m going to pay closer attention to nutrition, since I suspect the diet (not enough protein?) is what threw my stomach off after this workout and the one on Wednesday.

Friday

Run – 2 miles

This run was supposed to be longer but was feeling tired after a day of working on articles.

Saturday

Run – 1 mile

Zumba – 1 hour

Body weight circuit – 2x

  • 30 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (w/10 lb dumbbell)
  • 30 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Felt strong through this workout overall, although ravenous afterward.

Sunday

Rest day

Clearly pushed too hard the previous day, since I was wiped out. Decided to take an extra day off and felt better for it. Missed the yoga, but needed the extra race.

Monday

Rest day

Thoughts

Overall, alongside continuing to pay attention to nutrition, I think one of my major goals over the next few weeks is to make sure that I’m not missing sleep, especially with the amount of travel I’m going to be doing this month. That’s where a lot of the lack of energy for working out and some of the burnout from academic work are coming from.

Total miles: 6

Total days of cross-training: 3

One more time with feeling.

Uncategorized

I’ve decided to make an unofficial (sort of official?) return to blogging. I’ve always blogged in fits and starts, but I’m starting my last year of my doctorate,* and I’m returning to marathoning after two years of shorter distances; I can’t believe that Bayshore was two years ago! I needed to really focus on the dissertation, and now that I’m nearing a full draft of the dissertation, I feel more comfortable getting serious with my training again. I’ve been working out a lot, but my mileage overall has been way down. I haven’t decided on which marathon yet, but I’m eyeing some possibilities for the spring – possibly Buffalo or Toledo, but I’d prefer a trail race.** Some big changes will be coming in the next year, and I see the creation of a more public record as an important step in capping off this stage of my life and transitioning into my next phase.

That said, I want to commit myself to a weekly post, which, at the very least, will give a brief summary of my workouts. Mondays are good for posting because I’ll run long on Sundays,  and it’s usually a training off-day for me.

So, here we go.

Monday

Rest day.

I’d hit a different yoga class than usual the previous day, so my body was not happy with me. At all. According to my Fitbit, I didn’t even hit my step goals for the day, which I’ll chalk up to working at home on a chapter revision for most of the day and only emerging for a cup of coffee in the afternoon.

Tuesday

Zumba – 1 hour

Finally, finally managed to drag my carcass out of bed for the 7:30 class again, after three weeks of being too poorly rested to go. Got up a little too late to do a proper warm-up but was satisfied by the fact that I managed to get my workout done in the morning, rather than waiting until the 4:30 class.

Wednesday

Run (warm-up) – .5 miles at 5.0 mph pace

Zumba – 1 hour

Was supposed to do a full mile warm-up, but got very wrapped up in making progress on my chapter, so only managed to squeeze in a .5 warm-up before getting into class. The teacher has been using a lot of Shakira lately, and I’m loving it.

Thursday

Run – 2 miles at 5.0 average pace

Body weight circuit x 2

I did this run on the treadmill, because I wanted to go and buy new shoes before going to campus. I’d been having some serious pain in my feet from my Mizuno Waverider 17s. I never have pain in my feet, so I’ve been pretty anxious to get into some different shoes. I went over to Cleveland Running Company, and tried out some new kicks. The guy in the store took a look at my Mizunos, and the look on his face was pretty telling. The 17s were shot, even though the soles weren’t worn enough to merit replacing. He put me in the Brooks Ghost 8s, and I loved them. They have more padding than I’m used to (the Waveriders and the Kinvaras that I’d been wearing before them are lighter shoes), but my feet don’t complain anymore, so it’s a win all around.

For the body weight circuit, I increased the reps on the beginner body weight workout from NerdFitness. I did two sets of:

  • 30 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (w/8 lb dumbbell)
  • 30 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Friday

Run – 3.5 miles

Nice easy evening run. Nothing to report, really.

Saturday

Zumba – 1 hour

Body weight circuit x 2

Zumba was amazing – he really pushed us with some of the more difficult songs, although I need to get used to the heavier/bulkier shoes. I nearly fell over during one song when my newly gigantic shoes tangled in one another. The class was pretty small at the beginning but filled up as time went on, to the point where we fogged up the mirrors in the studio, which is pretty unusual for that class.

Body weight circuit:

  • 30 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (w/10 lb dumbbell)
  • 30 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

Sunday

Power Yoga – 1 hr, 15 mins

Run – 4 miles

The yoga session was very focused on Crescent lunge, which is not my favorite pose, thanks to all of the foot issues I’ve been having lately. I know it’s good to focus on that pose specifically, but it’s such a pain when you’re in it! The foot issues cropped up a bit more when we transitioned to a Warrior 3/Half moon/standing split sequence, especially on my right foot. Beyond that, I’ve been working on my Crow pose, which seems to be progressing, and my ability to “shoot back” from the halfway lift to Chaduranga Dandasana without sounding like I’m stomping on something.

The run was pretty uneventful, overall. I took the hilly route I’ve been favoring lately, and it feels encouraging that I’m walking a lot less on those hills than I used to!

Monday

Rest day

Still sore from yesterday’s yoga – mostly in the shoulders. I think my shoulder flexibility has improved significantly in the past few months, but we must have done more yesterday than usual.

Total miles: 12

Total cross-training days: 3

*OMG, right?! I

**I’m waiting until after my dissertation defense in Feb/March. Which, again, OMG.

Stalled, then restarted.

Uncategorized

A frustrating aspect of both grad school and endurance training is that you experience highs and lows – periods of intense motion, followed by periods of stasis. After finishing my dissertation prospectus and applying for a bunch of grants, I ran out of gas on both fronts. I’d pushed too hard, too fast trying to get myself to be ABD, and after I managed to hand everything in I tried to start writing my first chapter and diving back into endurance training without giving myself time to recover. 

Big mistake.

My engine sputtered and died in spectacular fashion. I’d write five pages. Read it over. Scrap it. Try again and become angry at myself for not being able to follow through with my goal of finishing a chapter by the start of June. I’d plan to catch up on a run and spend the whole day on my couch, either trying to chip away at this interminable chapter or watching Netflix in a futile attempt to cheer myself up. I felt – on both fronts – paralyzed, sick, unhappy, but the more I worked or thought about work, the worse I felt.

So, how to dig myself out of this funk?

At the end of last year, I was lucky enough to have been accepted to an academic conference in San Antonio. As the trip came up, I wasn’t worried about the paper I’d have to give, and I was actually pretty excited. I knew I was prepared; it was a paper I’d written as part of my exams, so I knew the topic backwards, forwards, inside-out and upside-down. I went to the conference planning to see as much as possible – to attend as many panels as I could, to talk to as many people as possible, to really dig back in. I took the chance to leave my computer – my dissertation, really – behind in the hotel room and connect with people. In this spirit, I attended what was probably the key to my return to true motivation – a “super session” with a number of feminist scholars. Sitting in a room of women doing the sort of work I aspire to and talking and tweeting with those women re-lit my spark. I could do this work. I have the skills – what was I doing feeling inadequate?While I was there, I also ran around the city in the early morning. No tourists, no watch, no phone. Just me and the city – alone together. It took a few days, but when I got back from the conference, I dove immediately back into both my scholarship and my fitness routine, feeling like a new woman.

The moral here, as I see it, is that seeing yourself as part of a living, breathing community and taking some time to unplug from the process of writing the dissertation, which can seem so daunting and terrifying, and to ditch the running watch and enjoy a run for once.

Back on the path, then. Hoping it lasts.

Kill the essay! (or Debating the Goals of the Literature Classroom)

Uncategorized

Rebecca Schuman recently wrote an article in Slate that suggests the difficulties of grading students’ writing at the college level, particularly attacking the inefficiency of the “college essay.” I’ve seen this article circulating over the past few days, and I’m just more baffled the more I think about it, so this post trends a little more towards discussions of teaching than of athletics, feminism, or academia more generally.

I understand where Schuman is coming from: the “college essay” is a flawed genre in a number of ways that frustrate students and make them less enthusiastic about writing generally. When poorly written, contextualized or sequenced, assignment prompts do little to encourage students to think creatively or to engage with ideas in a significant way. When students fail to become invested in their writing, they are more likely to produce poor, sometimes plagiarized, work, because, as Schuman suggests, they just want to get through the course with a decent grade. Schuman is obviously frustrated with a system of teaching she sees to be failing students and instructors. As a writing instructor, I’ve sometimes experienced the same frustrations as I watch students write about ideas that don’t relate to their interests or who see writing research essay as a last priority in the face of their looming exams in other subjects.

Beyond her treatment of students (which I think widely misses the mark of students of this generation, who I find engaged, resourceful but often overstretched and stressed), I take issue with Schuman’s article. Where I think Schuman strays is in her assumption that the flaws of this particular brand of essay suggest that writing in “content courses” should be eliminated. What I don’t agree with is Schuman’s idea that classes in “content areas” should substitute oral exams for a research essay in the literature classroom particularly.* I can’t really speak to other so-called “content courses,” since I don’t have much experience outside of my own field, but I know a thing or two about literature courses, so I have some thoughts about her recommendations.

The issue that arises in getting students engaged with the content, I suspect, results from differing sets of expectations of different student populations: majors and non-majors. The question that arises for me is what the administration of an oral exam over a research paper suggests about the goals of the literature classroom, particularly in a class that might serve as a “area study” for non-majors.** Is the goal of a gen ed course in literature really only to convey content knowledge? To make sure our students know that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy wind up together at the end of Pride and Prejudice? To make sure students can orally explain the criticisms of vivisection inherent in The Island of Doctor Moreau? Although these seem to be important aims in a survey course, as literary scholars, I suspect that we have larger concerns and learning objectives for our students besides the regurgitation of plot points and general themes, whether they are majors or non-majors. First, giving students the option of an oral exam seems reasonable until you think about the skills an oral exam would fail to capture — research, written argument, critical engagement, written engagement with outside sources — all of which are important for non-majors as well as majors. Second, in my experience as both an English student and an instructor, one of the goals of literary studies for majors is to get students to engage with existing research and for them to think about these texts outside of classroom discussions; literature students should begin thinking of themselves as nascent literary scholars with something unique to say about a given text. The risks of an oral exam, then, are obvious in terms of training students for the broader goals of literary study: it fails to bring students into that role by depriving them of a chance of playing in the genre in which all literary scholars engage.

The solution to dealing with the issues of the “college essay”, then, are likely not a wholesale abolition of writing in the literature classroom. Rather, the changes need to be on the assignment level, although none of these changes are a panacea: an assignment tailored to the class to help prevent plagiarism, sequenced assignments so that students are forced to do work on the assignment early on to prevent them writing their papers the night before they’re due, allowing students some freedom in topic selection to keep them engaged, adding some sort of presentation component to help those who are better speakers than writers, etc. It requires some work on the front end to make such changes, but the results will likely be more student engagement (even if it’s grudging engagement) and, one hopes, happier students.

*The “content area” vs. “rhet/comp” idea that Schuman buys into here is frustrating. Rhet/comp is a content area, which is an assumption that those of us in rhet/comp have to deal with frequently.

**Also, if you think students fail to be invested in writing about a research topic they specifically select, how invested do you think they’ll be in having to take an oral final? Even as someone with an MA working on her PhD in literature and rhetoric, the idea of being forced to take an oral final gives me hives. As an undergrad who was firmly invested in literary studies, oral exams would have been paralyzing, even though I usually knew the content backwards and forwards.

A fellow grad student recently pointed me to an article over at Tenure, She Wrote. In this article, Acclimatrix recently wrote an article that outlined tips for male academics to be more supportive and respectful of female academics: “Don’t be that dude: handy tips for the male academic”. Among the advice Acclimatrix offers for male academics is included the following point that struck home for me, as a female grad student in a particularly stylish department:

2. Don’t comment on a woman’s appearance in a professional context. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are; it’s irrelevant. Similarly, don’t tell someone they don’t look like a scientist/professor/academic, that they look too young, or they should smile.

As a feminist, I wholeheartedly agree with the point. As academics (especially in the humanities), our jobs are about intellect and argument not our physical appearance; we should be more interested in a person’s ideas than in what they’re wearing: the content of our research and our ability to teach should be weighed above our ability to put together a cute outfit. I’d suggest that both men and women should seek such a goal, but as a woman interested in fashion and – admittedly – looking professional and polished at my job, I find putting this laudable idea into practice more difficult.

As a female graduate student, I’m always concerned about the way I dress.  In professional circumstances, I like to think myself well put-together. Dressing appropriately is a factor we can’t ignore as academics, as much as we like to pat ourselves on the back for our devotion to the life of the mind.* The options are much more complicated for women than for men as academic professionals. Women have a wider variety of professional options that can make decisions about appearance simultaneously more freeing and much more fraught than those required of men. Is this outfit appropriate for teaching or is this skirt too short or top too low-cut? When presenting at a conference, do I have to wear a skirt or can I wear pants? Does wearing jeans or failing to wear make-up to a particular department event give my professors and colleagues the wrong impression of me?

Particularly, Acclimatrix’s point got me thinking about the relationships I have not only with male colleagues but also with female colleagues – mostly with other female graduate students. Grad student friendships are often difficult to characterize, because they involve three important and sometimes conflicting factors: (1) you’re friends, given the close bonds that form in the face of graduate school’s many trials and oddities; (2) you’re colleagues, often offering advice and encouragement and commiserating about research; and (3) you’re competitors, as you fight for recognition from your department, grants, faculty members, etc.** Due to this unique relationship and the blurring of lines between friends and colleagues, Acclimatrix’s suggestion above seems difficult to enact, as valid as it is in theory. Some of my friends in my department, like me, are interested in fashion both personally and professionally, and this personal interest and professional concern flows into our relationships. We talk about it frequently. We compliment each other. We analyze each other’s ensembles. We strategize outfits for conferences, job talks, department events. We shop together or for each other. Not talking about appearance, when it is such a part of our lives seems difficult, although it’s something to strive for.

*A great example of the backlash against female academics in fashion, Elaine Showalter writes about the derision she receives for cultivating a fashionable appearance in “The Professor Wore Prada,” where she writes “[A] passion for fashion can sometimes seem a shameful secret life” for female academics.

**I don’t mean to say that this competition is always negative. The competition is most often good-natured and friendly, but the truth is, there are often only so many grants to go around, only so many faculty members to serve on committees, etc.

Uncategorized

Princesses, Divas, and Gender Essentialism in Races for Women

Uncategorized

I recently came across an article on Facebook discussing a race for women in Florida, the Divas Half Marathon and 5K. In an article for the Cultist blog at the Miami New Times, B. Caplan highlights the problematic prize package given to winners of age group awards in the race. Caplan writes:

There are 14 different age groups for competition. (Pity the race official who dares ask a diva her age!) First place in each group will win Botox. Second gets laser hair removal. Third place gets laser teeth whitening…While the youngest age group, 14 and under, is not eligible for any of the cosmetic procedures, the next age group up — children between 15 and 19 — are able to win the teeth whitening and laser hair removal.

This part stopped me short. Cosmetic procedures as race prizes? Who thought that was a good idea?

Obviously, the problem here isn’t that this is a race for women only. Many, many races for women alone exist, such as the Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco, the Dirty Girl Adventure Race Series (which I ran in 2012), and the Disney Princess Half Marathon. What each of these races purports to do is to celebrate women runners, a group that, until about thirty years ago, was restricted from long-distance running in the Olympics due to a lingering belief that women were incapable of such physical effort without harming themselves.* These races tell women: “Hey, it’s awesome that you’re a woman who likes to run or who wants to try running for the first time! Come and celebrate that with us!” These races are generally inclusive of all fitness levels and offer a safer entry-level for women who’ve never participated in such an event before. “See yourself in a new way!” these races seem to say, “You can have fun doing athletic activities as a woman!” The trend, to me, seems inherently positive, as it seeks to get more women involved in running as a sport and to make the experience of running social and fun.

Despite this positive intention, issues with these races arise on two fronts. First, compared to many other races of similar distance, these races are often ludicrously expensive. Like gimmick races**, such as the Color Run or one of the many obstacle races so popular right now, these races usually double (or sometimes triple!) the regular cost of participation. For example, the Divas 5K is $65. Local 5Ks, with less bells, whistles, and aggressive branding, tend to run around $25 at the high end, even as they donate the majority of their profits to charity. Similarly, registration fees for the Nike Women’s Marathon are $200, where the fees for the last big-city marathon I ran were $95. These costs, keep in mind, don’t include travel, lodging and, sometimes, food at the race’s after-party. With the women’s races, you’re paying more for the “women’s race” label and the various trappings that come along with it (the cost of those diamond necklace finishers’ medals has to come from somewhere!).  If you have the money to run such a race, that’s excellent, but the fact is that the costs are a rather high barrier to entry for what claims to be an inclusive race.

Second and perhaps more importantly, these races often over-emphasize a particularly feminized image of womanhood as they seek to attract more participants. In an attempt to claim running for women, the pendulum of marketing for these races often swings too far in favor of a stereotypically feminine runner, rather than seeking a nuanced vision of its female participants. The branding on many of these races leans toward hyper-femininity: princesses, divas, feather boas, tiaras, pink EVERYTHING, diamond necklaces instead of racing medals. Obviously, these different aspects aren’t present at every race, but many of the more prominent women’s races feature some imagery, prizes, or promotion that conform to such an image. This isn’t to say that women who enjoy these aspects of races are wrong, by any stretch. The problem is, that by emphasizing this one particular type of womanhood, these races conform to an essentialized image of who women are and can be, ignoring the differences among women and their experiences of womanhood. What about women who hate pink? Why not emphasize women warriors alongside princesses? Why are feather boas a thing?*** While the races might, in theory, challenge the idea that women are too weak to run long distances by highlighting the power and strength of some of their competitors, many of these races reinforce stereotypes and objectified versions of womanhood, rather than challenging them, as they could.

The prizes for the Divas Half Marathon and 5K only highlight this problem. Offering cosmetic procedures as a prize for an athletic event that celebrates women’s physical abilities seems to contradict the goal of women revising their visions of themselves and their capabilities beyond existing cultural stereotypes on athleticism, particularly because these prizes are being offered to the second youngest age group winners.

Is it asking too much to have these races ditch their hyperfeminized visions of women in favor of a more inclusive view of womanhood? Would races attract less participants with less of an emphasis on traditional images of femininity? I suspect not, given the popularity of races like the Tough Mudder and the Warrior Dash, which are gender-neutral but feature marketing images of strong, not stereotypically feminine, women. The Warrior Dash, for example, features a women’s finisher shirt with a Valkyrie (I want this shirt. Very badly). Seeking greater inclusion shouldn’t be difficult, so while I laud such races for opening running to many women who would not participate otherwise, I want to emphasize that these races have some significant room for improvement.

Why can’t Valkyries, divas, and princesses run together?

Brunhilde!

Brunhilde wouldn’t mind hanging out with princesses and divas. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

*One widespread belief, discussed in this New York Times article, suggests that a women’s uterus would fall out if she were to participate in long distance running!

**I don’t use this term as a condemnation. I’ve done a few – the Color Run and the Dirty Girl 5K – and they were ridiculously fun. They simply cost more than the average race.

***They are itchy, ugly, all around terrible, and I hate them.

In which I wax poetic about endurance running and the PhD…and set a goal

Uncategorized

I just finished my PhD written exams yesterday, which may have been one of the more difficult things I’ve done in my life (I won’t know if I’ve passed until next week, and oral exams are on the 21st). There were points where I couldn’t remember simple words because my brain was so taxed (I couldn’t think of the word “reinforce” at one point, which is both hilarious and massively depressing) and where I had to talk myself into writing just another page or reading through just one more sentence. The thing is, though, that now that it’s finished, it feels amazing to know that I managed to complete the written part of the exam without quitting and managed to produce exam answers that I’m not completely embarrassed about. Although, again, I won’t have feedback on them until next week, so my opinions could easily change between now and then.

I know I’m not the first to make the analogy, but this process really brought home to me how going through the process of getting the doctorate is an endurance sport; the psychological aspects of the exam process are similar to those that get you through the marathon. There were points during both where I was too tired to keep going, where I knew I could quit, where I convinced myself that I couldn’t finish but didn’t stop. In both, you push through your fatigue, your pain, because you know that you’ve put the work in to finish and finish strong. I was talking to a colleague last week about how the preparation for the exam is like training for a marathon – the hours of intellectual and/or physical training, proper nutrition, good sleep, rest days. I also suspect that – were I not an endurance runner – I wouldn’t have had the psychological reserves to finish the written exam. The feeling at the end of each was similar: physical, emotional, and mental fatigue mixed with pride for having accomplished something challenging.

Today, I’m completely wiped out, but I also had this thought: I need to do an Ironman before I finish my dissertation.

I know, I know. It’s a crazy idea. But don’t throw me in an asylum just yet.

I’ve run three marathons, something like eight half marathons (I’d have to go dig through the medals and count them at this point), and completed a duathlon (run + bike + run). I have my fourth marathon in March, and I was planning to do a triathlon next summer. I want to continue to challenge myself physically in the same way the dissertation is going to challenge me intellectually. The Ironman is the next logical step.

The Ironman is one of the toughest endurance events in the world, and consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. The only other events that tax their participants as much are the 100+ mile trail races out in the desert or in the mountains like Badwater and Western States.

I’ve always been intrigued by triathlons. My dad used to do them when he was my age,* and as a little kid, I always thought it was neat. I’d never been an athlete**, however, so doing anything on the scale of a triathlon was completely beyond me. After I finished my first marathon in 2011, I knew that I wanted to eventually get into triathlons and that, at some point, I’d shoot for the Ironman.

So what does this mean?

I have two and a half years before I finish my dissertation, if all goes to plan, so I have two and a half years to prepare for an Ironman. I’m thinking that the Summer before my last year of grad school will probably be the ideal time to do it, since I’ll be going on the nationwide job-market, which will consume a good deal of time and money as I’m trying to finish my diss. So race plan for the next few years might look like this (since I want to run a 50K at some point as well):

2014

  • Spring marathon – Virginia Creeper marathon (while writing/completing dissertation prospectus)
  • Summer/fall half Ironman
  • Fall/winter 50K – Possibly the Bigfoot 50K?

2015

  • Spring marathon – Possibly Buffalo?
  • Summer/fall Ironman
  • Winter 50K

2016

  • Spring marathon (while finishing/defending dissertation)
  • Graduate (if all goes to plan!)

I’d also sprinkle some 5Ks and half marathons in there as well, but this is a schedule that might actually be doable, if I get myself in gear and stay focused. I’d be fine with pushing the Ironman to the following summer, but I’d worry about having to move for work and all the chaos that could result. Well. What’s grad school without a challenge?

*He actually used to do kayak triathlons, which replace the swim with a kayaking level, which, in my opinion is much more fun than swimming.

**which is a nice way of saying I was a lazy kid/teenager who would have rather cut off an arm than run a mile.